My Life Before Christ
What was life like prior to conversion to Christ? It was trying to fill a big empty spot in my soul with earthly pleasures that never seemed to satisfy. I was clueless about where I had come from, what my purpose was, and, most importantly, what lay beyond this earthly life.
I was not raised in a Christian home; I was not taught the Bible; and I had no Christian friends. The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-5, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” My sin had rendered me dead toward God. Oh, I was alive physically, but only doing what the verse says: “walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”
The Bible describes life without Christ as being spiritually dead, living under the direction of the Devil, and being children of wrath. Life for me was a continual fulfilling of one lust after another. But while sin promises real fulfillment, it left me empty and with a load of guilt that I tried to suppress even further. Outwardly I enjoyed some success in life, but inwardly, I was miserable and wondering what the truth was.
How Christ Saved Me
At that time in my life and in the providence of God, a new man was hired at the graphic design studio where I was employed. He was a very talented illustrator; but more than that, he possessed wisdom that was beyond him. I had never met anyone like him. I didn’t realize that he was a Christian. After several months of working with this man, he invited to have dinner with his family. A bachelor never turns down a free meal, and so I accepted his invitation.
After dinner he took a Bible from his bookshelf and said he had something he wanted to talk to me about. My immediate reaction was to make an excuse to leave, but then I thought, you need to listen to what he has to say. So I listened as he presented the Gospel to me. He made the issue of sin and its penalty understandable; that men were sinners separated from God, and that in love God sent His Son into the world to save them; that Christ died in the sinner’s place, was buried, and three days later arose from the dead, proving He was God’s Son. I was 25 years old and I had never heard that message quite so clearly. He asked me what would hinder me from turning control of my life over to Christ at that very moment. That sounded really good, since with me at the wheel of my life, things had been out of control. I asked him what that involved. He said it all begins with prayer, and he and his family all bowed their heads. I had never prayed a prayer but that evening at their dinner table, I simply called on the name of the Lord to save me, and He did.
I had never read the Bible, and I wasn’t familiar with Scripture at all. But I remember thinking it would be a good thing to begin reading the Bible. I didn’t even own one, but my friend gave me one and in the days to come I found myself unable to put it down, even reading passages to my fellow workers, not understanding why they were not as excited about the Scriptures as I was.
His Life in Me Since
Now, in my unconverted state, I was epitome of what Romans 3 says of unconverted folks: I possessed a mouth full of cursing and bitterness. One of the most astounding evidences of the work of grace that had been done in me is that right after asking Christ to save me, something happened that would have normally produced one of my tirades filled with blasphemies and obscenities, and there was none; the words that were normally on my lips were not there. I thought, what on earth has happened to me? As I continued to read the Bible, I happened upon John chapter 3, where Jesus is speaking of the new birth, and I thought, I wonder if this has happened to me? The wind blew where it would, you couldn’t tell where it came from or where it was going, but you could certainly see its effects. Shortly thereafter I read that I needed to confess Christ before men, and so I made a public profession and was baptized. After becoming involved with the church, a young fellow asked me if I’d like to join him for visitation. I was so excited to be with other Christians that I accepted his invitation. Once I met him there, I asked, “What is visitation?” He told me we’d be going into homes of people who had visited the church and that we would be seeking to share the Gospel with them. As uncomfortable as that first night seemed, I was encouraged by hearing him talk to people about their souls’ greatest need. Not to mention the great fellowship we shared as we went from visit to visit. Since that time over 40 years ago, I have had the privilege of being in lots of homes to share the Gospel of Christ and this man has become one of my closest friends. I see church as not only a place to worship and fellowship with others, but as an equipping station to prepare us as believers to do the work of the ministry.
Sometimes when you hear people’s testimonies, you are led to believe that the person giving his testimony has become perfect. Talk to my wife and she will dispel any of those notions. Seriously, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.” I am thankful I was raised in an irreligious home. I am thankful I was not poisoned by a false gospel as vile and wicked as I was. I am thankful where sin abounded, grace did more abound. And when the good news was proclaimed, it truly was good news to a young man who was walking “…according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
Grace is that unmerited, undeserved favor of God that is granted to those who believe.